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Will Running Cause Long-term Damage?

Posted Jul 27 2010 9:03am

Since increasing my mileage to train for the upcoming Chicago Marathon, I’ve noticed that my left knee is starting to hurt.  Actually, I’ve noticed lots of things have started to hurt.  It’s a truism of running that people often gloss over.

Running can hurt

And it even hurts for jogglers.

However, there are different kinds of pains and none of them have been shown to cause long-term damage.  Consider these types of pains and how long they might last.

1.  Chafing - This is my most frequent pain and it is the result of things like wet clothes, electronic gadgets, or chords rubbing against your skin.  The chafing is a red mark on your skin that stings when you touch it.  It especially stings when you put hot water on it (like during a shower).  Fortunately, it will go away after a day or so.  No long-term trouble but it hurts.

Using something like body glide or Vaseline at the spots you might experience rubbing will take care of the problem.

2.  Sore joints – All the pounding of running on your joints just makes them start to hurt.  Some people will tell you that this could lead to osteoarthritis when you get older but there is no science to back this up.  In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine (Aug 2008; 35(2): 133-8) demonstrated that long distance running was not associated with development of osteoarthritis.

Your joints will feel sore for a few days however, resting up will do wonders for your recovery.

3.  Sore muscles – Exercise like joggling or running stresses your muscles and leads to damage.  Fortunately, when the muscle builds back up you’ll be stronger and better able to run farther the next time.  But during that break-down time you’ll feel some pain.  Expect these pains to last at least a day or a couple days if you haven’t worked out in a while.

Ice can make it feel better.

Of course, this list doesn’t include more serious injuries like stress fractures, twisted ankles, or tendonitis.   These can lead to more permanent conditions if left untreated.

If you have any pain that lasts more than a couple days, go get it checked out by a doctor!

It’s a fact that running hurts.  The more distance you run, the more pain you’ll experience.  Fortunately, the pain is both tolerable and temporary.  The health benefits you gain from running far outweigh these minor pains so in my opinion, the pain is worth it.

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